TV host Yang Lan is one of China's biggest celebs. Will the propriety and pragmatism that got her there keep her from becoming the mogul she wants to be? A story of fame, ambition, and reality in modern China.
"We have some work to do." Yang Lan, one of China's most famous women, doesn't so much say the words as turn them into a command. It is the last day of taping for her reality show, New Girl in the Office, and in a sweltering Beijing studio, Yang is coaching an audience of college-age women. Despite the heat, the students sit ramrod straight, their eyes glued to the regal star who stands before them in her gold Prada gown and Prada shoes. ("I wanted it to feel more formal," she says later.) She is about to teach them how to clap.
"There are three forms of applause: First, fast and furious," Yang tells the women. They clap feverishly. "When the comedian says funny things, there's the appreciative clap." They clap slowly. "The third is like when a political consultative conference is about to end, and you want it to be over so bad." They flatten palms together robotically.